From Gary Neumann:
I thought it might useful to provide you with a brief overview of some of the significant items relating to the Mayo Civic Center Expansion Project. If you have questions on any of the information please feel free to give me a call. There is also a large wealth of information on the MCC Commission agenda for this week.
- Estimated Cost and Budget. The most recent estimated cost of the project indicated a total project cost of $82 million. That amount was intended to cover the costs of the Convention Center Addition (188,000 sq. ft.), a new black box addition to the Civic Theatre, significant improvements to Presentation Hall and renovation improvements to the Arena, Auditorium and lobby. In the 2012 review of the project, which involved many groups in the community, the Park Board, and the Mayor and Council there was a decision to bid a Kitchen Addition as an alternate bid. The estimated cost of the Kitchen Addition is about $3.0 million. Thus the total estimated cost, without other major changes is $85 million. The State share is the $3.5 million in funds provided to the City in 2008 for the plans and specifications and the $35 million that was just approved in May of 2014. The remaining estimated cost for the City share is $46.5 million.
- The City’s funding source is the 3% lodging tax that was approved in 2013. In our 2013 lodging tax approval we included a request to increase the limit on the amount of funds that we were authorized to raise locally from the lodging tax for all potential uses from $43.5 million to $50 million and that was approved. The estimated $46.5 million City Share is therefore within the authorized limit for our funding source. The Finance Director has previously indicated that the lodging tax collections could support a $46.5 million share over 25 years. Bottom-line for me, though, is we have a tight budget with not a lot of margin for increased costs. Our recent project cost estimate for the Rec Center project was much higher than our budget for that project. However the recent bids on some initial projects at the MCC have come in under budget and the Fire Station bids recently came in on budget. Let’s hope for the best and good bids.
- Schedule. Steve Sorensen of TSP has indicated that ideally the City would be able to award the project to the selected contractor in December or January at the latest. That assumes we can get the plans reviewed and updated in a reasonable time and advertise for contractor proposals under the best value process in October. The bidding and best value process is estimated to take a minimum of 2 months. December/January is a good time frame for competitive bids as contractors are still trying to line up work for the coming spring. If the review and plan revision process takes longer than expected it could extend the overall time frame into spring of 2015 and that could impact the bids that the City receives on the project. The schedule and potential delays in the review process “could” affect our tight budget.
- Review of MCC Expansion Plans. The MCC Expansion plans were reviewed with many stakeholder groups and were approved by the Mayor and Council in 2009. There was a MCC (Stakeholder) Advisory Committee that was heavily involved and reviewed every aspect of the design. With the passage of time the plans were again reviewed by stakeholder groups and the Mayor and Council in 2011 and 2012. In the Mayor and Council meetings in 2012, three design issues that arose in these meetings were discussed. There were reports on these issues prepared by TSP/Betsch and they are available for review. The Mayor and Council favored bidding a kitchen addition as an alternate; reviewed and concurred with the improvements in the accessibility report; but the Council did not support the inclusion of an escalator into the design for the MCC Expansion.
- The design of this project, in my experience, has been reviewed by more stakeholder groups and more times than any other City building. The State funding of $3.5 million was used to finish the design and construction specifications for the project and that amounts to 300 plan sheets and 2000 pages of specifications. These will be revised to adjust for product changes, new materials, new technology. That does not include structural changes to the proposed building. If the upcoming reviews of the plans by the MCC Commission and the Mayor and Council, result in major structural changes to the design that could affect both the schedule and the cost for the project. The architect can be asked to comment on what proposed changes will do to the project schedule and cost.
- The MCC staff and consultants are in the process of reviewing the plans with many stakeholder groups. Thus far those have not resulted in suggestions for major changes that would affect the structure or schedule. Staff will also plan to review the plans with other advisory groups such as CUDE and the Energy Commission. CUDE did review the design in 2010. I would note that typically general advisory group reviews of projects occur much earlier in the process such as at the Schematic Design stage. Once the design has been approved and the plans and specifications are complete, as in this case, the next step is to advertise for bids. It is our hope that the review of this design by all groups will be undertaken with the knowledge and understanding that it is much more difficult to accommodate changes in a project with completed plans and specifications than for a project that is in the schematic design stage. I would also note that the design of the MCC Expansion meets the State’s B3 Energy standards as is required and has been approved by the State. The City has planned to use the County Steam system service for the expansion project. This will require discussions with Olmsted County.
- Architects and Consultants. The City selected the team of TSP/Betsch and Associates as the lead consultants for this project based on a competitive proposal and interview process. Betsch and Associates is a firm that has designed convention centers throughout the country. In addition TSP has retained other experts for the Presentation Hall acoustics and for the kitchen. Their team brings a lot of experience and knowledge to this project. The acoustic and interior improvements to Presentation Hall are not well known but have been well received by review groups, such as RSOC. In addition the MCC staff believes that the design does a great job of separating the “back of the house” MCC service functions from the users who are there to enjoy the facility. For the users the functionality of the building will be their main focus.
- Resolving Issues That Arise. This is a large project on a very compact site. This will create access challenges for all the current user groups and their customers. The staff has met with those groups (Civic Theatre, Art Center, Rochesterfest) recently; the architect will meet with them during the plan review process; and we will ask the potential contractors to develop detailed access plans. We don’t have all the answers yet on access but have a process to work on those concerns the best we can. The MCC staff and our design and construction team will do its best to balance and accommodate the needs of all users, partners and stakeholders during the construction phase. The MCC staff is engaged and prepared to work with all neighboring site partners to reduce concerns and disruptions.
- One concern that should be discussed during the annual budget process is about the potential loss of revenue for some of those users during construction. More limited access may be a concern for some facility rentals. Another concern, specific to Rochesterfest, is that they will lose the use of Civic Center Drive for their event at least in 2015 and 2016 and possibly for good. Carole Brown will be in discussions with Doug Knott and others about potential sites to move this event. Construction impacts can be very difficult and frustrating, so we ask your patience as we work through issues that arise.
- Project Labor Agreement. In 2009 the Council unanimously approved the use of a Project Labor Agreement for this project. Due to the passage of time we will be asking the Council to reaffirm that decision. That is an agreement that prevents strikes and work stoppages on the project. This is a process that was used successfully by the City in 1999 to complete the Exhibit Hall on time and on budget. With many events already booked at the MCC during the construction period and many more scheduled right after the scheduled completion, the staff of the MCC and this office strongly recommend this for this time sensitive project.
- Project Contacts. If issues arise the main staff contact is Donna Drews. Since this is a small department, with limited bench I also will be available to take your calls and assist in resolving issues. More difficult or unresolvable issues will be referred to the MCC Commission, which has quickly taken a strong leadership and oversight role for the MCC as planned by the Mayor and Council. As with any large building project the Mayor and Council will also have an important role and involvement.